Top 100 Energy Stories (March 16th – 22nd)

radbullHey Folks. As this issue will imply, we are looking at a huge national push by the nuclear industry. I’m not going to put even a small number of the angry Yucca Mountain articles being posted all over the country.  Gallup has released a poll claiming that nuclear support is at it highest ever and yeah Georgia happened as well as the NRC decision to let Energy Solutions take depleted uranium wastes at its Clive Utah dump.

But from Harvey Wasserman’s review of the French connection to any number of other battles around the world going on, it should be clear that the industry is running scared right now.

Lots of policy news as well as n-waste stories this round.

Top Nuclear Stories Index

Reactors Safety NRC Fuel Cycle N-Waste
Policy Weapons DOE Energy News OpEd


Nuclear Reactor News

Exelon, GE Hitachi considering producing Co-60 at Clinton reactor
Exelon and GE Hitachi are considering a joint venture to produce the isotope cobalt-60 at Exelon’s Clinton power reactor in Illinois, Exelon spokeswoman Krista Lopykinski said March 19. Co-60 is used in various medical applications and radioactive sources. On March 31, Exelon representatives and NRC staff will hold a meeting to discuss “a potential license application” by Exelon Generation regarding Co-60 production at Clinton, NRC said in a March 18 notice. Lopykinski declined to provide further details.
Group opposes revised permit for Bellefonte –
A North Carolina environmental group is seeking a public hearing with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to oppose the reinstatement of a construction permit for Bellefonte Nuclear Plant’s Units 1 and 2.

“This is an unprecedented action by the commission,” said Louis Zeller, director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Issuing permits to a utility that had abandoned the project in 2006 and had not been inspecting or maintaining the plant over a three-year period violates the National Environmental Policy Act, he said Thursday.

Zeller said the Tennessee Valley Authority should be made to start over “from square one,” as if it’s a new construction project, in applying for a permit to finish the two units.

Efforts to reach the commission for comment were unsuccessful.

Nuclear Fallout : Journal Watch Online
Legend has it that cockroaches would be the last survivors of a nuclear holocaust, but according to a study in Biology Letters, their invertebrate brethren would not be so lucky. The researchers went back to Chernobyl, where a nuclear reactor exploded in 1986, causing the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and many deaths and illnesses. Because little is known about the ecological effects of low-level radiation on animals, they surveyed more than 700 forest sites and 17 transects that spanned four orders of magnitude of background radiation levels, looking for bumblebees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and spider webs. They found the animal abundance dropped with increasing radiation, even after controlling for factors like soil type and habitat quality. The ecological effects of the Chernobyl disaster are greater than most have previously assumed, they conclude.

IEER Press Release | NRC Ignores Depleted Uranium Risks

Decision an Apparent Bow to Burgeoning Nuclear Fuel Enrichment Industry

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted today to declare that depleted uranium (DU) from enrichment plants is a Class A low-level radioactive waste – the least dangerous kind that supposedly consists mainly of short-lived radionuclides. In 2005, the NRC had concluded that large amounts of DU were not covered by its existing low-level waste rule and directed its staff to develop recommendations regarding DU classification. The Commission’s action also opens the door to classification of other dangerous radioactive wastes in the least hazardous category – Class A. Commissioner Jaczko dissented and voted in favor of a rulemaking process to determine the classification of DU within the existing low-level waste framework. – NRC decision means EnergySolutions could store depleted uranium
A change in classification means depleted uranium could be coming to Utah’s west desert in bulk.

On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to regulate depleted uranium as Class A low-level waste.

Depleted uranium is the by-product, or tails, of the uranium enrichment process, a key point in the production of fuel for nuclear power reactors. It is stable in the short-term. It’s used as part of dental porcelain and to make armor-piercing bullets like those used in the Gulf wars.

But Vanessa Pierce, executive director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah says depleted uranium is much more toxic thousands of years down the road.

Atomic Threat Splits Japanese Village Facing Restart –
Residents of a remote Japanese village must choose between jobs and safety concerns as they weigh a request to restart the world’s biggest nuclear plant, shut for more than a year after an earthquake triggered a fire and radiation leaks.

A committee appointed by Niigata prefecture, where the plant is located, today said it agrees with Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the central government that one reactor is safe to restart. The decision, which needs to be endorsed by the head of Kariwa village, Kashiwazaki city and the prefectural governor, comes two weeks after a fire at the station — the eighth since the shutdown — revived fears that the plant isn’t ready.

Hokuriku Electric Wins Appeal Against Reactor Halt  – Bloomberg
Hokuriku Electric Power Co. will continue operating a nuclear reactor in central Japan after winning an appeal against a suit brought by a group of citizens concerned about safety in the event of an earthquake.

The Nagoya High Court today reversed a ruling ordering the utility to shut the No. 2 reactor at the Shika plant in Ishikawa prefecture, it said in a statement. The Kanazawa district court ordered the 1,206-megawatt unit halted in March 2006.

Today’s ruling comes as Japan’s nuclear power industry tries to win back public support after an earthquake in July 2007 triggered a fire and radiation leaks at the world’s biggest atomic plant and a series of cases involving falsification of safety data came to light. The government and two other regional utilities are now contesting similar court cases in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

Panel: VY safe but more resources needed – Brattleboro Reformer
Vermont Yankee can operate reliably past 2012, concluded a panel appointed to review an audit of the nuclear power plant in Vernon.

But its reliability, wrote the panel in a report issued Tuesday, can only be guaranteed if Entergy invests the resources needed to address recommendations made by the panel and the independent consultant that conducted the audit.

Entergy must be committed to a high standard of reliable performance, it wrote, and a credible process trusted by the public must be put in place to verify the company is following through on its commitments. Nonetheless, wrote the panel, “VY has had a very good historical performance.”

In its 37 years of operation, Vermont Yankee has not had an outage lasting one year or longer, though nearly half of the boiling water reactors in the United States have.

Victoria Advocate – Exelon faces federal lawsuit
A federal lawsuit filed against Exelon Corp. shouldn’t affect plans to build a nuclear plant in Victoria County, Exelon officials said.

NRG Energy Corp. filed its lawsuit Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, asking the court to correct Exelon’s false and misleading claims, an NRG news release stated.

NRG said that Exelon’s exchange offer serves as a tool to pressure the NRG board of directors into accepting Exelon’s inadequate offer to take over the company. The news release calls the offer a ruse because such an offer would cost billions more than Exelon’s current merger bid because it would require additional refinancing for NRG debt.

FACTBOX-Japan’s nuclear power plant construction plans | Reuters
The table below shows the status of Japan’s new nuclear power generators that are slated to start operations over the coming years.

Capacities are shown in megawatts. “P” represents planned
commercial operations.
FACTBOX-Proposed U.S. nuclear plant licenses | Reuters
The weak global economy and frozen
credit markets are cutting the size of the first wave of what
has been billed as a renaissance for U.S. nuclear power.

Since 2007, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has
accepted applications for the construction and operation of 26
new reactors.

Relicensing drive begins for 3 NJ nuclear plants —
Three nuclear power plants in southern New Jersey have begun their relicensing process.

The Salem 1 and 2 and Hope Creek plants share an island on the Delaware River. The permit for Salem 2 is good until 2020 and Hope Creek is licensed to operate until 2026.

But plant co-owner PSEG Nuclear says it is submitting relicensing materials for them along with Salem 1 because all the plants share operations. The Salem 1 license expires in 2016.

Plant officials met with officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday to outline relicensing plans.

Georgia Power gets nod to build more nuclear reactors |

The Georgia Public Service Commission approved Tuesday two additional nuclear reactors for Georgia Power.

The decision means the utility can begin expanding its Vogtle nuclear plant two years from now, as long as it gets all other needed permits.

Customers will also begin paying for the $6.4 billion project then, thanks to a bill the Legislature passed last month. Customers must begin paying financing costs six years before the reactors are done.

The Legislature saved the PSC from making a decision on those early charges.

Whitehaven News| Nuclear power is not the way to secure west Cumbria’s future, says Lib Dem leader
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has told the people of west Cumbria that nuclear power is not the way to secure its economic future.

Mr Clegg has backed away from supporting the Energy Coast plan for the region  the £2 billion regeneration package, which includes the national Nuclear Laboratory and the expansion of the University of Cumbria into West Cumbria, and is expected to create 16,000 jobs and plough £800m into the economy.

Taipei Times – Taipower requires more money for nuclear plant
A SMALL TWEAKING: While delays were likely for the fourth nuclear plant, the AEC said that more advanced technology would boost total output by 1.7 percent\n\nTaipower chairman Chen Kuei-ming told the legislature yesterday an additional NT$40 billion (US$1.15 billion) to NT$50 billion would be needed if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is to reach a stage where its two generator units can begin operations in 2011 and 2012.\n\nThe additional funding would bring the construction costs at the Gongliao, Taipei County, plant to between NT$270 billion and NT$280 billion, Chen said.

Man dies at nuclear power station – The Local
A 61-year-old man died while working on the O3 nuclear reactor at Oskarshamn nuclear power station in southern Sweden on Sunday morning.

The man was carrying out maintenance work on reactor, which is temporarily out of service, when a jack broke loose and crashed into the man’s chest.

The 61-year-old was rushed to hospital in Oskarshamn but was declared dead on arrival.

The accident occurred shortly before 5am in the reactor’s turbine hall. The police have conducted a technical investigation of the scene and a report has been submitted to the Swedish Work Environment Authority.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Lung disease debate continues | Port Clinton News Herald
Pug Renwand admits he’s scared. He’s scared of the day when his Chronic Beryllium Disease, the lung illness that has afflicted him for 10 years, might force him to carry an oxygen tank around to help him breathe.

He worries he might lose the dream house he worked so hard to build because he can’t afford mortgage payments. He said he can’t work for more than a few hours a day without becoming tired and winded, so he doesn’t have a job.

And he wonders whether CBD eventually will kill him.

Waste moved by stealth – St George & Sutherland Shire Leader

A CONVOY of trucks transported nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor to Port Kembla early on Monday morning.

As usual, the operation took place in secrecy and under heavy security.

It was the ninth shipment of used or spent nuclear fuel to leave Lucas Heights for overseas storage facilities since 1963.

Normally, the shipment leaves through Port Botany but because of construction work at that location, went to Port Kembla on this occasion.

The Illawarra Mercury reported that port sources had told of workers “holding their breath” as the small ship rolled towards the jetty as the first of eight containers was loaded.

Nuclear power still doesn’t make sense – JSOnline
The nuclear power industry, virtually dormant for decades, is hoping that concerns about global warming will bring its resurgence.

Wisconsin, which has not built a new nuclear reactor since 1974, got a taste of the well-orchestrated pro-nuclear campaign last week at a legislative hearing stacked with nuclear power apologists, including two former critics of nuclear power who now support it as part of a solution to the converging challenges of climate change and energy shortages.

Times have changed, the converts say. One of them, Patrick Moore, who also wrote the March 12 op-ed “Put nuclear energy to work,” assured legislators that nuclear power was “one of the safest technologies that has ever been invented by human beings.” (Moore is paid by the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, funded by the nuclear industry.)

FPL rate increase: Florida Power & Light asks state for a $1 billion annual power boost starting in 2010 — South Florida

The company submitted a proposal Wednesday to the Florida Public Service Commission to increase base power rates by $1 billion in 2010 and $1.25 billion in 2011.

Florida Power & Light proposes increasing electric rates by at least $1 billion a year starting next year.

The company submitted a proposal Wednesday to the Florida Public Service Commission to increase base power rates by $1 billion in 2010 and $1.25 billion in 2011.

FPL, the state’s largest utility with 4.5 million customers, said the increase would allow it to earn a “fair” profit, while making its infrastructure stronger, more efficient and less likely to emit greenhouse-gas emissions.

In D.C., a sea change on dump plan – Las Vegas Sun
Ever since President Barack Obama promised to significantly scale back the Yucca Mountain budget this year, the question has been a simple one: Now what?

Sometimes the question comes as a genuine line of inquiry about the future of nuclear waste. At other times it is loaded with incredulity.

Either way, Obama’s proposal has caused a phenomenal shift in thinking that would have seemed unbelievable just a few months ago.

BALKANS: Fallout of Bombing ‘Continues to Kill’

Ten years after the NATO bombing of Serbia, concern is rising over a rise in the number of reported cases of cancer.

Some 15 tonnes of ammunition fortified with depleted uranium was dropped by way of more than 50,000 bombs and missiles in the 11 weeks of bombing of Serbia in 1999. The targets of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) bombing were 116 locations, mostly in southern part of Serbia and the Kosovo region.

The bulk of the 120,000-strong Serbian army was stationed in the south. The NATO campaign, dubbed Merciful Angel, was carried out to end the oppression of about two million ethnic Albanians by the Serb regime. After nine years under UN administration, Kosovo declared independence in February last year.

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | The case against nuclear power
Audio presentation

BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme looks at the arguments against new nuclear power stations.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Ignores Depleted Uranium Risks |
Votes to Ignore Sound Science, Its Own Prior Analysis, and Radiological Safety

Decision an Apparent Bow to Burgeoning Nuclear Fuel Enrichment Industry

TAKOMA PARK, Md. – March 18 – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted today to declare that depleted uranium (DU) from enrichment plants is a Class A low-level radioactive waste — the least dangerous kind that supposedly consists mainly of short-lived radionuclides. In 2005, the NRC had concluded that large amounts of DU were not covered by its existing low-level waste rule and directed its staff to develop recommendations regarding DU classification. The Commission’s action also opens the door to classification of other dangerous radioactive wastes in the least hazardous category — Class A. Commissioner Jaczko dissented and voted in favor of a rulemaking process to determine the classification of DU within the existing low-level waste framework.

Medical tests on hold at OR : Knoxville News Sentinel
Disc containing personal info for thousands of DOE employees lost; local workers not at risk

OAK RIDGE – Free medical screenings for workers at Oak Ridge and other Department of Energy sites have been put on hold while DOE investigates an incident in which personal information could have been compromised. The department also is establishing a new protocol for handling such data.

The incident involved a lost disc containing the personal information for thousands of current and former employees at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory. Local officials emphasized Tuesday that no information involving Oak Ridge workers had been placed at risk.
Chernobyl animals worse affected than thought-study | Reuters
Radiation has affected animals living near the site of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster far more than was previously thought, a study showed on Wednesday, challenging beliefs that local wildlife was on the rebound.

The study showed that numbers of bumble-bees, butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers and other invertebrates were lower in contaminated sites than other areas because of high levels of radiation left over from the blast more than 20 years ago.

The findings challenge earlier research that suggested animal populations were rebounding around the site of the Chernobyl explosion in Ukraine, which forced thousands to abandon their homes and evacuate the area.

Missing nuclear materials pose problem for U.S. – Oak Ridge, TN – The Oak Ridger
Missing nuclear materials from overseas pose a bigger threat to countries like the United States than a stolen bomb from Russia or a so-called “dirty bomb,” according to a former U.S. Air Force secretary.

“Fissile materials from Russia and Pakistan are the problem,” said Thomas Reed, a nuclear physicist who worked for President Ronald Reagan, as well as a weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Atomic Veterans Recognition Program payments have begun – The Hill Times – Newspaper Online.
More than 554 phone inquiries have been received, more than 300 application packages have been sent out and the first payments have already been mailed for the Atomic Veterans Recognition Program (ARVP).

Everything is progressing very well. We have received 244 completed applications packages and those are being reviewed by the program office.

CF Veterans and National Defence civilian employees who participated in nuclear weapons tests and the Chalk River decontamination efforts performed their duty under exceptional circumstances. The ARVP was announced in September 2008 by Defence Minister Peter MacKay to recognize the unique service of these individuals.

Blast’s ties to cancer unclear – The Augusta Chronicle
Did an atomic test 56 years ago this Tuesday bring on the cancer that later took the life of his father, Augusta Chronicle Editor Louis Harris, who witnessed the event?

“I personally always thought that could be a connection,” he said of the Nevada nuclear blast near Yucca Flats that Mr. Harris witnessed on St. Patrick’s Day 1953 and wrote about in The Chronicle .

He’s not the first to ask.

The health hazards of those nuclear tests have been questioned for decades — particularly when it comes to the high cancer rate for the cast of a 1956 John Wayne movie suspected of being touched by leftover fallout.


NRC News

NRC: Archive of NRC’s video meetings
This is an archive of the NRC’s webcast video meetings.

They start in November of 2007 to date.

NRC – NRC Announces Opportunity to Participate in Hearing on New Reactor Application for Bell Bend Site
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the opportunity for public participation in a hearing on a Combined License (COL) application for a new reactor at the Bell Bend site near Berwick, Pa. The site is adjacent to the existing two-reactor Susquehanna Steam Electric Station.

PPL Bell Bend submitted the COL application and associated information Oct. 10, 2008, seeking approval to build and operate an Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) at the site, approximately six miles northeast of Berwick. The NRC is currently reviewing the EPR for possible certification. The Bell Bend application, minus proprietary or security-related details, is available on the NRC Web site at:

NRC expects requests for 7 new nuclear reactors | Reuters
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received 17 applications to build 26 new U.S. nuclear reactors and could get five more applications for seven reactors by the end of next year, the agency’s chairman told Congress on Wednesday.

“We are actively reviewing those applications as we speak,” NRC Chairman Dale Klein told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a hearing on the state of the U.S. nuclear industry.

NRC Panel Requires Waste Storage Plan for New Reactors | Environmental Protection

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s three-judge panel told Georgia utilities in early March that their application to build more nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle was incomplete. The application failed to consider how radioactive nuclear waste would be managed if a storage site remains unavailable when the new reactors begin operation. The plant is located along the Savannah River near Augusta, Ga.

According to a March 10 press release from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the panel said a long-term storage plan must be developed before the federal agency can issue a permit to build the proposed nuclear reactors.

NRC revising its on-site nuclear waste policy – ReviewJournal
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is revising its estimates of how long nuclear waste can be kept safely at power utilities as confidence shrinks that the radioactive material ever would be shipped to a Yucca Mountain repository.

The agency could decide this summer that spent nuclear fuel could be stored securely in above-ground concrete and steel casks for at least 120 years, which is 20 years longer than current policy, NRC Chairman Dale Klein said at a Senate hearing today.

The NRC set forth its proposal last fall, after the Department of Energy sent the agency a construction license application but before the election of President Barack Obama, who opposes the project and has indicated he will take steps to scale it back dramatically.

NRC- NRC Schedules Open House to Answer Questions on 2008 Performance of Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled an open house for Thursday, March 26, and will be available to discuss and answer questions about the agency’s assessment of safety performance during 2008 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. The plant, operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Co., is near Waynesboro, Ga., about 26 miles southeast of Augusta.

The open house is informal and scheduled to run from 2-4 p.m. in the Burke County Courthouse, 602 Liberty Street in Waynesboro.

NRC staff will be available to answer questions on the safety performance of the Vogtle plant, as well as the NRC role in ensuring safe plant operation. Although this open house is specifically designed to answer questions about the plant’s performance during the previous year, NRC staff members will also be available to address general issues regarding license renewal for the operating units and the NRC’s role in the two additional units planned at the Vogtle site.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation: The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership: Proliferation Concerns and Implications
Abstract: Since the dawn of the atomic age, the United States has sought to encourage the use of nuclear energy while minimizing the proliferation risks associated with it. The latest U.S. initiative that sets out to accomplish this is the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which, in its current form, potentially includes the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies around the globe. This article examines the concerns surrounding the proliferation of these technologies and surveys their history both domestically and internationally. In identifying these concerns, the author argues that GNEP needs to be considered in the context of the Atoms for Peace program; that it erodes the successful thirty-year U.S. position against reprocessing; and that it allows for the spread of technologies that are not proliferation-resistant.

Russia, Nigeria Sign Nuclear Accord Allowing Uranium Mining –
Russia and Nigeria signed an accord on nuclear energy, allowing the countries to work together on mining uranium, building and testing atomic power plants and sharing knowledge.

The agreement may also help Nigeria develop nuclear energy research and generation, Rosatom Corp., the Russian state-run nuclear holding company, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Spot uranium price falls to $42.50/lb U308
The spot market price of uranium continues to fall and now stands at $42.50 a pound U3O8, according to the latest reports from TradeTech and Ux Consulting. TradeTech lowered its price 50 cents/lb March 13, while Ux lowered its price by $1/lb Monday. A number of analysts believe is likely that the price will drop a bit more over the next several weeks. Some said the price could drop below $40/lb, but others said a bottom was forming and that a slight rebound in the price would occur at, or slightly above, $40/lb. For now, the spot market continues “to be oversupplied,” said one. And unfortunately for sellers, the buying interest that is emerging, especially among utilities, is very discretionary, TradeTech said.

KWES NewsWest 9 | LES Plant Preparing for More Tests

A uranium enrichment facility under construction in southeastern New Mexico is preparing for more tests later this year.

Gregory Smith, chief operations officer for Louisiana Energy Services, says that if an operational readiness review and another assessment of licensing performance are successful in August and September, the plant could go online before the end of the year.

Officials with LES and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission met this week to talk about the National Enrichment Facility and the ongoing construction.

An NRC official says LES has been through one operational review, but the second one this fall will be more in depth. The facility’s centrifuges will produce enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power plants.

RosBusinessConsulting – Rosatom inks peaceful atom accord with Mongolia
Russian atomic energy state corporation Rosatom and the Mongolian Nuclear Regulatory Authority have signed an agreement on stepping up cooperation. The document was signed following Russian-Mongolian talks between the two countries’ prime ministers in Moscow today. As stated in the documents, the bilateral accord is meant to provide the impetus for developing interaction in the peaceful use of atomic energy.

As reported earlier, news that Rosatom was poised to take part in developing Mongolia’s nuclear energy industry first appeared in April 2008, when the Russian state corporations’ chief Sergei Kiriyenko said following a meeting with Mongolian Prime Minister Sanjaa Bayar that Rosatom would draft the designs for a small- and medium-capacity nuclear power plant in Mongolia and possibly participate in the further exploration of the republic’s uranium fields, as well as joint investment in uranium production and staff training. At the time, Rosatom estimated Mongolia’s natural uranium reserves at over 100,000 tonnes.

Uranium One reports $3.3-billion loss in 2008 on write-downs
Canada-based Uranium One on Monday reported a net loss of US$2.3 billion for 2008 on an earlier-announced $3.3-billion pre-tax write-down in mineral interests, plant and equipment. Adjusted net earnings, which exclude one-time charges and gains, were $22.3 million for the year, up from $3.4 million in 2007. The company did not provide any fourth-quarter results. Uranium One put 2009 production at about 3.5 million pounds U308 from its Kazakhstan joint venture mines and said total production this year would be about 5.6 million pounds U3O8.

USEC, Inc. Awaits $2 Billion Decision
USEC Inc. has a construction and operating license for its proposed American Centrifuge Plant, which is being demonstrated by the company at the former Atomic Plant site in Piketon.

But the funding it needs to complete the $3.5 billion plant and be under production of enriched uranium fuel by 2012 to provide the growing demand by commercial nuclear power plants, remains a big question for the company.

USEC still lacks a commitment on its application for up to $2 billion in federal loan guarantees for its American Centrifuge Plant (ACP). The company recently took steps to conserve cash and reduce the planned escalation of construction of the plant at the Piketon site and in the manufacture of AC 100 centrifuge machines for it.


Nuclear Waste News

Alexander Nikitin: Our our main goal was liquidating nuclear waste dumps in Northern Russia’ – Bellona
ST. PETERSBURG  Fifteen years ago, in March of 1994, a report was published which, in essence, saved the Arctic region from a nuclear catastrophe. The report by the then little-known Bellona Foundation uncovered the secrets that were for decades hidden by Soviet authorities, and later, the Russian military. Bellona, 18/03-2009 – Translated by Charles Digges The subject of the secret was some 150 decommissioned nuclear submarines languishing at dockside at the ports of the Russian Northern Fleet with their spent nuclear fuel still on board. These cast-off submarines were rusting and their terrifying cargo of spent nuclear fuel could well have ended up in the waters of the Barents and White Seas at any moment. The successor of the USSR  the Democratic Russia had no money to devote to their dismantlement.

Accusations, lost paperwork part of perchlorate controversy – San Bernardino County Sun
Officials at a Rialto-based public water purveyor are accusing San Bernardino County of illegally demolishing and burying a hazardous waste-disposal facility and likely contributing to water contamination flowing through Rialto.

Lawyers for the West Valley Water District say state and federal laws were violated when the facility was demolished, and they say the debris spread across a wide area and was buried.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control, or DTSC, is investigating what happened at the Broco Inc. site, named for the hazardous-waste disposal operation located there from the 1960s to the 1980s. The county purchased the property in 1994 to expand the Mid-Valley Sanitary Landfill.

After Yucca: America’s homeless nuclear waste – Salt Lake Tribune
Every year, the nation’s 104 nuclear plants create about 2,200 tons of nuclear waste and stow it in storage containers beside cooling towers across America.

In Idaho. In Massachusetts. In Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, California, New Mexico — at 120 locations in 39 states a total of 66,000 tons of used but still dangerously radioactive fuel are stored in concrete containers under the open sky.

And now it has nowhere else to go.

The plan for two decades was to bury it in volcanic rock under Yucca Mountain, a hundred miles from Las Vegas.

Nuclear waste arrives at St. Petersburg, ecologist detained /
About 30 members of St. Petersburg’s ecological organizations protested on Thursday the transportation of nuclear waste from other countries to Russia, the bi-weekly published St. Petersburg Times reported. The picket near the Avtovo metro stop was timed to coincide with the arrival of the MV Schouwenbank ship with 1,250 tons of so called uranium tailings. At the end of the protest, police detained co-chairman of the ECOperestroika environmental organization, Rashid Alimov, for what they called “the violation of fire safety rules and rules on holding public events,” representative of ECOperestroika Vera Ponomaryova stated.

The St. Petersburg Times – Ecologists Decry Arrival of Nuclear Waste
About 30 members of St. Petersburg’s ecological organizations protested on Thursday the transportation of nuclear waste from other countries to Russia.

No to the Import of Nuclear Waste! read the slogan held by a group of ecologists in front of Avtovo metro station  the area of the city through which trains transporting nuclear waste from Europe usually pass.

We are protesting nuclear transportation through St. Petersburg, said Rashid Alimov, co-chairman of the ECOperestroika ecological organization at a press conference on Thursday. We also declare the start of a public campaign against the construction of a terminal for receiving radioactive waste cargo in the port of Ust-Luga, he said.

The protest was prompted by the arrival of the ship MV Schouwenbank loaded with 1,250 tons of depleted uranium hexafluoride from Germany to St. Petersburg on Thursday. It was the biggest transfer of German radioactive waste to Russia in history, ECOperestroika said.

Taipei Times – Residents mixed on plans for nuclear waste dump
Reactions were mixed yesterday after the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Tuesday evening that Taitung County’s Daren Township and Penghu County’s Wang-an Township were its two preferred locations for storing low-radiation nuclear waste.

The ministry committee tasked with selecting potential sites eliminated Pingtung County’s Mu-tan Township as an option.

Regulations for selecting sites require that the decision be open for public comment for 30 days. If there is opposition from the communities, authorities could try to negotiate. The proposals must be put to local referendums, with more than half of eligible voters participating and more than half of the ballots cast in support of the sites for them to be built.

Two potential sites suggested for radioactive waste dump – The China Post
A remote island of offshore Penghu County and a sparsely populated rural township in eastern Taiwan were chosen yesterday as the final suggestions for a site for a permanent radioactive waste dump.

According to a panel of experts under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the final site of the dump will be selected between Penghu’s Wangan island and Taitung County’s Daren township.

The announcement of the two locations will be gazetted from Wednesday until April 16, with a referendum among residents of the two counties to be held in two months at the earliest to determine whether they will allow the dump to be built in their areas.

Should they refuse to vote in favor of the dump, the site plans will be scrapped, according to the panel. The dump is needed to replace an existing dump on Orchid island in Taitung County, which will be shut down because of fierce opposition from local residents.

Chronicle Journal – Nuclear waste site search continues
It will be up to the Canadian people to decide where an underground nuclear waste storage facility will be built, a spokesman for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization said Tuesday.
NWMO was formed in 2002 to come up with a solution for the fireplace log-sized bundles of used nuclear fuel that are building up at Canada’s nuclear reactor sites.

If you were to take all of the used fuel bundles and stack them together like cordwood, they would fit into six hockey rinks from the ice surface to the top of the boards, said Mike Krizanc, NWMO communications manager. The volume is not huge.
The organization is working on a project that will see the two million bundles accumulated over the past 40 years end up in a safe and secure, deep geological repository that will contain and isolate the used fuel.

NWMO is seeking public input into developing a process to find a site for the facility. A draft is to be complete by late spring.

Common Soil Bacteria Could Clean Up Nuclear Contamination
An international team of scientists has found a common soil bacterium that might one day be used to clean up radioactive toxics left from nuclear weapons production decades ago.

The bacteria’s cleaning power comes from their ability to “inhale” toxic metals and “exhale” them in a non-toxic form, explains team member Brian Lower, assistant professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University.

Yucca Mountain politics – Las Vegas Sun
There has been a spate of editorials and articles recently whining about President Barack Obama’s decision to kill plans for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

USA Today, for example, published an editorial Tuesday decrying the decision as political noting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is from Nevada. The newspaper said the decision countered the White House’s belief that politics should not drive science.

Searching for Green Nuclear Waste Disposal : CleanTechnica
Yucca Mountain: it’s nice to look at, but green it ain’t. The thought of endless nuclear waste barely contained inside a seismically-active mountain is enough to give anyone the chills. That’s why nuclear design engineer Dean Engelhardt started Permanent RadWaste Solutions, a company that proposes to send nuclear waste to the surface of Earth’s inner core.

Changeable weather:  High Country News
The West’s environmental movement got buffeted by strong late-winter winds, both good and ill.

First, President Barack Obama has targeted the federal government’s 22-year-old multibillion-dollar effort to bury nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. He vowed to devise “a new strategy” on dealing with nuclear waste, while seeking little money for Yucca Mountain in his 2010 budget proposal, released in late February. Congress will probably go along with that, since the Senate majority leader, Nevada’s Harry Reid, also opposes the project.

The bad news within that good news: There is still no place for long-term storage of the 57,700 tons of nuclear waste that are being held in dozens of “temporary” storage sites around the country, plus the 2,000 additional tons that nuclear reactors will produce this year, and the additional tons that’ll be produced in 2010, and so on. Back to Square One on solving that problem.

The truth about… nuclear waste –
Nuclear energy is a key part of the new energy plan. But what plans do we have for disposing of the industry’s highly toxic waste?
For over 50 years, the world has been generating radioactive waste without any clear idea of what to do with it.

In the UK alone, 365,000 cubic metres of high and intermediate-level radioactive waste will be accumulated from its existing nuclear programme that is coming to the end of its life. And with plans for a new breed of nuclear reactors now under debate, that inventory will only proliferate unless a long-term disposal plan is devised.

That plan is starting to take shape. In January 2008, the UK government came up with a policy to bury its long-lived high-level radioactive waste deep underground based on recommendations by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), a UK advisory group.

Fukushima mayor mulls radioactive waste site : The Daily Yomiuri
A mayor in Fukushima Prefecture is considering allowing his town to host a disposal site for highly radioactive waste, it has been learned.

“There are 10 nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture. I don’t think we can just leave the problem of disposing of waste to other prefectures,” Narahamachi Mayor Takashi Kusano said.

However, on Monday, Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato said that the prefectural government was not considering accepting such a site.

The central government has been accepting applications from local governments willing to host waste sites since 2002.

In 2007, Toyocho, Kochi Prefecture, offered to host such a project but withdrew its application in 2007 following a campaign against the project.

The government has not so far found any local government willing to accept a site.

Nuclear waste ship can be tracked on the web – Illawarra Mercury
An international shipping website is publishing co-ordinates of the nuclear shipment after its departure from Port Kembla harbour.

Despite a veil of secrecy and extensive anti-terrorism measures for the transfer of the spent nuclear rods over land through Wollongong, the website is carrying up-to-date information about the vessel, MV Lynx, including its location at sea and its expected arrival time in the United States.

Even those who do not know the ship’s name can find its path, simply by searching for ships which have recently left the country.

Lessons from the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Storage Debate – US News and World Report
Over the past decade, more than 7,000 shipments of radioactive nuclear waste have been sent, without any problem, to a government repository in the southwestern United States.

This crucial repository is not the ill-fated Yucca Mountain, the Nevada site that has been steeped in controversy since Congress selected it 22 years ago to store the country’s civilian nuclear waste. Yucca Mountain, in fact, has gotten so bogged down in legal and political fights that President Barack Obama, in his new budget, is proposing to eliminate almost all of its funding and explore “alternatives,” raising serious questions about how the United States will resolve its nuclear waste problems—and, for that matter, whether the nuclear industry will be able to grow in coming decades.

With No Long-Term Solution, Nuclear Pallbearers Bury Waste in America’s Backyard
This summer, dozens of workers at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant in central California will carry out an interment. They’ll carefully begin moving 133 tons of spent fuel from temporary cooling ponds into a nuclear necropolis of eight cement-and-steel tombs in a field adjacent to the plant. If all goes according to plan, they won’t have to worry about the radioactive detritus for another 100 years.

If all goes according to plan.

The Diablo Canyon storage casks, each weighing about 180 tons and costing more than $1 million each, were authorized by the Nuclear

Regulatory Commission in its ongoing struggle to deal with the 50,000 metric tons of toxic nuclear waste that’s already been produced by the nation’s nuclear plants. Structures like these, measuring about 18 feet high, will soon dot the landscape at almost all the nation’s more than 104 active and shuttered nuclear reactors  near neighborhoods, streams and oceans in 38 states.


Nuclear Policy News

Govt urged to scrap nuclear dump legislation (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
An anti-nuclear group say the Federal Government needs to come clean about whether it will build a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory.

Yesterday, the Government scuttled a bill in the Senate that would have overturned legislation that allows for a waste dump in the NT.

Natalie Wasley from the Beyond Nuclear Initiative says the Prime Minister needs to honour his commitment to scrap the legislation.

“Not even different ministers and senators within the party can get an answer from [Resources Minister Martin] … Ferguson, so really it’s up to Prime Minister Rudd to call him out on his silence and his secrecy and expose what the Government is intending to do to the community,” she said.

Opposition wants end to nuclear power – The Local
The three opposition parties have announced their intention to phase out Sweden’s nuclear power capacity if they were to win the next election in 2010.

The four leaders of the Social Democrats, Green party and Left party – Mona Sahlin, Maria Wetterstrand, Peter Eriksson and Lars Ohly – write in an opinion article in Dagens Nyheter on Sunday that nuclear power should be replaced by renewable energy sources.

The shift to renewable energy sources should be undertaken with respect to the protection of “jobs and welfare”.

Gallup poll finds 59% support US nuclear power, a ‘new high’
“New high levels of support for nuclear power” in the US were found in a Gallup Environment Poll released Friday. In a telephone survey of 1,012 adults conducted March 5-8, 59% of respondents said they “favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity for the US,” and 27% “strongly favor it.” Gallup said “a majority of Americans, 56%, believe nuclear power plants are safe, but a substantial minority of 42% disagree.”
Yankee shutdown fund bill advances: Rutland Herald Online
The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved a bill Friday forcing the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to put more money toward its decommissioning.

The 8-2 committee vote Friday came after weeks of testimony about Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning fund, which has dropped by nearly $100 million in the last 16 months as the financial markets collapsed.

The decommissioning bill which was opposed this week by Entergy Nuclear Vermont, the state’s top two utilities and the Public Service Department is expected to appear on the House floor for a vote late next week.

Nuclear debate worth close look
Following is the viewpoint of the writer, formerly a fellow in the faculty of environmental studies at York University and acting director of environmental partnerships for the Saskatchewan Environment Ministry.

Saskatchewan residents are now being asked to revisit the debates over uranium refining and nuclear power generation which were passionately argued 30 years ago during the Cluff Lake and Key Lake mining inquiries and the Warman refinery review.

US FERC fills jurisdictional security gap at nation’s nukes
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday clarified that facilities within nuclear generation plants that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not regulate must comply with eight mandatory cybersecurity standards that FERC previously approved. The order is meant to cover a jurisdictional gap at nuclear plants for equipment the NRC does not regulate. The Nuclear Energy Institute and the Edison Electric Institute had told FERC the measure is unnecessary and potentially harmful because no gap exists and NRC jurisdiction covers the equipment. NRC disagreed that its jurisdiction covered the gap and FERC in Thursday’s order agreed with NRC.

IAEA succession battle shapes nuclear agency’s future – Los Angeles Times
Abdul Samad Minty and Yukiya Amano are the front-runners to take over the International Atomic Energy Agency when Mohamed ElBaradei’s term ends. The two officials could not be more different.

Reporting from Vienna — A succession battle over the once-obscure leadership post of the world’s arms control watchdog could affect attempts to persuade Iran to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and shape the direction of nuclear nonproliferation efforts for the next four years.

Abdul Samad Minty, a South African, and Yukiya Amano of Japan are the front-runners to take over as director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency after the term of Mohamed ElBaradei expires this year. The agency’s leadership will be decided during a vote after a closed-door meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member board here in the Austrian capital March 26-27.

The News and Tribune – Amendments may kill energy legislation
Amendments to lift restrictions on nuclear plant construction in Kentucky and allow drilling for oil and gas on state property might be enough to nuke Gov. Steve Beshear’s energy bill in the House.

House Bill 537, sponsored by Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, would establish benchmarks for producing more of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources, biofuels, coal-to-liquid fuels and such forms of transportation fuels as electric hybrid engines and ethanol by the year 2025. It would also require reducing demand by 25 percent by that time through conservation and efficiency measures. It passed the House easily in its original form and seemed on its way to passage in the Senate.

Worldchanging: Bright Green: Stewart Brand is Rethinking Nuclear
Monday night Stewart Brand spoke at UC Berkeley on Rethinking Green.

He went through the requisite slides on climate, population and energy but with a few twists. He was involved in the Pentagon-sponsored Abrupt Climate Change report in 2003, we’re still learning about how weird it can get and how fast it can get weird, he said as he showed a global minefield of positive feedback loops that could rapidly increase CO2 in the atmosphere. At what point will the pH of the oceans become too acidic for the phytoplankton to continue sequestering CO2? When will the methane gigaburp out of the permafrost? When will the rainforests wilt and stop storing carbon? We have no idea! Brand asserts that each one of these events will come as a nasty surprise and will push the urgency around climate response to a new level, forcing us to reconsider technologies that we may not currently favor, such as nuclear power and geo-engineering.

Community divided over new nuclear power plan (From Gazette)
IT’S the hulk on the horizon that dominates views from Mersea.

The decommissioned nuclear power station at Bradwell stands across the Blackwater estuary from the island, and could be in line for a fresh lease of life.

Working with owners EDF Energy, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has nominated the site as a possible location for one of a new generation of nuclear plants.

But opinion is divided as to whether nuclear is the right choice to meet the country’s need for environmentally-friendly power, and if Bradwell would be the right place.

Impact of reactors is challenged – The Augusta Chronicle

Environmental groups contended Monday that federal regulators produced flawed conclusions and an incomplete evaluation of Southern Nuclear Operating Co.’s application for permits to expand nuclear Plant Vogtle.

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has an obligation to assess environmental impacts,” said Terri Porter, speaking for five groups that jointly challenged an environmental impact statement for the proposed reactor project in Burke County.

Specifically, they contend that Southern Nuclear and NRC staff did not fully explore the impact of two new reactors on the ecology of the Savannah River and did not fully investigate a plan to dredge the river channel to allow barges to deliver reactor components.

Brisbane urged to remain nuclear free
Brisbane City Council (BCC) is expected to reaffirm the city’s status as a nuclear-free zone following the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) pledge to allow uranium mining if it wins government this weekend.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and his LNP councillors are expected to abstain from Tuesday’s vote.

Council’s Labor Party leader Shayne Sutton says the motion follows LNP leader Lawrence Springborg’s recent vow to lift a ban on uranium mining if he’s elected on Saturday.

Urgent rethink on the nuclear option – Times Online
ON October 17, 1956, the Queen threw a switch to connect Calder Hall nuclear power station to the grid. It was the world’s first commercial nuclear power station and had been built from scratch in three years. It continued to operate well for the next 47 years, and became the first of a series of 11 Magnox nuclear power stations.

Next year, the last of those will close, leaving Britain at the mercy of fossil fuel, much of it imported, to meet a growing demand for electrical power. The Magnox stations and their successors — a generation of bigger, more modern pressurised-water reactors (PWRs) were a triumph for sophisticated, British engineering. Sizewell B PWR was built and opened in 1995. It was intended to be the first of a series of 10 PWR stations but it was to be the last one to be built in the UK even though, at its opening, nuclear power was providing a crucial 20% of UK electricity.

The critical issue of safety | The Economist
The much-heralded renaissance of nuclear power will fail unless the public can be convinced that all plants, worldwide, are safe

FILMS do not often cause diplomatic incidents. But in November last year the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Austria protested against The First Day, a fictional account of the aftermath of a nuclear accident at Dukovany, a real-life Czech plant near Austria’s border. Austria voted in 1978 to ban nuclear power, and its public-service broadcaster showed the film to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the referendum. Not only is the Czech plant portrayed as a menace to Austrians, but the Czech authorities withhold vital information from their neighbours after the accident.

No uranium sales unless India signs NPT: Australia -The Economic Times

CHANDIGARH: Despite the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nod for the historic India-US nuclear deal, Australia, one of the world’s largest producers
of uranium, is unwilling to export it to India unless New Delhi signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the country’s envoy says.

“The NSG decision cannot affect our policies and decisions. We are very clear that we would not supply uranium to any country that has not signed the NPT,” Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy told IANS here.

“The present labour government (of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd) is very particular about this issue and there is no chance of laxity in its stand,” the envoy, who was here for a media seminar, added.

Politics | E. Idaho mayor defends trip to Paris paid for by French nuclear company | Seattle Times Newspaper
The mayor of this eastern Idaho city says he’s doing nothing wrong by accepting a weeklong trip to Paris paid for by a French-owned nuclear services company that has proposed building a uranium enrichment plant near here.

The mayor of this eastern Idaho city says he’s doing nothing wrong by accepting a weeklong trip to Paris paid for by a French-owned nuclear services company that has proposed building a uranium enrichment plant near here.

Mayor Jared Fuhriman said attorneys have looked at the trip and say he will not be breaking any laws.

“We have turned every stone over,” Fuhriman told the Post Register.

He leaves Saturday on the trip paid for by Areva Inc. as a chaperone for 20 members of his Youth Advisory Council, whose members also are traveling on the company’s dime.

Belarus, Lithuania, and a nuclear power plant in search of a solution – Bellona
Debates are still ongoing on the issue of possible construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus. The suggested site is in the Ostrovets District in the Grodno Region or just some fifty kilometres away from neighbouring Lithuania’s capital of Vilnius. Bellona’s regular contributor Andrei Ozharovsky offers a comment on the developing project and the public sentiment it is causing.

Harvey Wasserman: The Crash of France’s Nuclear Poster Child
The myth of a successful nuclear power industry in France has melted into financial chaos.

With it dies the corporate-hyped poster child for a “nuclear renaissance” of new reactor construction that is drowning in red ink and radioactive waste.

Areva, France’s nationally-owned corporate atomic facade, has plunged into a deep financial crisis led by a devastating shortage of cash.

Electricite de France, the French national utility, has been raided by European Union officials charging that its price-fixing may be undermining competition throughout the continent.
Cumberland News | Residents hit out at west Cumbria nuclear reactor plans
Nuclear chiefs faced angry criticism yesterday from people living in two Cumbrian communities earmarked for new nuclear reactors.

In a shock move announced last month, German power giant RWE revealed it wants to build two nuclear reactors, at Braystones, near Sellafield, and at Kirksanton, near Millom.

In a separate move, a third site, a patch of land just north of the existing Sellafield complex, has also been earmarked by its owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

A meeting was held at Whitehaven Civic Hall yesterday afternoon to inform the public about the nomination of land at Sellafield.

But a question and answer session was hijacked by Braystones and Kirksanton residents angry at RWE’s proposals.


Nuclear Weapons News

The Associated Press: 2 US Navy vessels collide in Strait of Hormuz
Two U.S. Navy vessels a nuclear-powered submarine and an amphibious ship collided before dawn Friday in the mouth of the Persian Gulf, one of the world’s most important sea passages for oil supplies.

There was no damage to the sub’s nuclear propulsion system and no disruption to shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes, said Navy spokesman Lt. Nate Christensen, with the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet.

Still, the unusual collision between members of the same navy sparked a sudden rise in oil prices which had been declining on the day even though the strait remained open.

JapanFocus: BRAVO and Today: US Nuclear Tests in the Marshall Islands
It is an honor for me to be able to speak to you today on behalf of indigenous people throughout the world whose lives have been dramatically affected by the proliferation of weapons. I bring you the greetings of the people of the Marshall Islands, and more specifically the paramount leaders of the Ralik chain, Iroijlaplap Imata Kabua, and Iroijlaplap Anjua Loeak, whose domains have borne the brunt of United States military weapons development from the nuclear bombs of the Cold War to the missiles that carry them today.

I lived on the island of Likiep in the northern Marshalls for the entire 12 years of the US atomic and thermonuclear testing program in my country. I witnessed most of the detonations, and was just 9-years old when I experienced the most horrific of these explosions, the infamous BRAVO shot that terrorized our community and traumatized our society to an extent that few people in the world can imagine.

GAO: DOE Overestimated FutureGen Cost Before Canceling It :: POWER Magazine
The Department of Energy’s decision last year to withdraw from FutureGen the first clean coal plant in the U.S. largely because costs had doubled and would escalate substantially, was rooted in faulty calculations, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released last week.

At the end of January 2008 just after the FutureGen Alliance announced it would locate the zero-emissions demonstration plant in Matoon, Ill. the DOE pulled out of the $950 million project, saying costs had doubled to $1.8 billion. It announced instead that it would pour its 74% share into smaller clean coal demonstration projects.

But in its report, Clean Coal: DOE’s Decision to Restructure FutureGen Should Be Based on a Comprehensive Analysis of Costs, Benefits, and Risks (PDF), the GAO found that the DOE compared two cost estimates for the original FutureGen that were not comparable because DOE’s $950 million estimate was in constant 2004 dollars and the $1.8 billion estimate of DOE’s industry partners was inflated through 2017. The project was inflated $500 million, the GAO estimated, and should have cost $1.3 billion.

Mid Hudson News: Riverkeeper challenges NRC’s findings on the environmental impacts of Indian Point
Riverkeeper Wednesday filed written comments with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, challenging its assessment and conclusion that environmental impacts caused by Indian Point’s operation are not severe enough to prevent relicensing of the plant for 20 more years. The commission’s conclusion appeared in its December 2008 draft environmental analysis.

Riverkeeper’s comments noted the wide range of severe impacts caused by the aging nuclear plant, but focused on the slaughter of Hudson River fish populations caused by Indian Point’s cooling water intakes and the NRC’s refusal to consider the risk of storing thousands of tons of nuclear waste at the plant indefinitely, without any environmental review.

Ruling clears way for EnergySolutions to store depleted uranium in Utah – Salt Lake Tribune
Depleted uranium is not your ordinary radioactive waste.

Most hot waste gets less hazardous over time, like most of the stuff buried at EnergySolutions Inc.’s disposal site in Tooele County.

But not DU, as it’s called. The uranium enrichment by-product becomes more hazardous as it decays. And that’s the reason the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s latest decision on depleted uranium is causing such a controversy.

On Wednesday, the commission voted 3-to-1 to regulate DU as Class A low-level waste. And, in doing so, it made up to 1.4 million tons of DU potentially eligible to go to EnergySolutions’ Utah site.

While the Salt Lake City nuclear company is applauding the decision, critics say the NRC has put industry’s interests before people. And the commissioner who cast the “no” vote said DU is “a unique challenge” that deserves its own category.
From the Archives: U.S. finds lost nuclear bomb
A hydrogen bomb that went missing for three months in the Mediterranean Sea is back in the hands of the U.S. military after being found the previous day.

The bomb had been lost in January when two U.S. military planes, a KC-135 tanker and a B-52 carrying four thermonuclear weapons collided during midair refueling. Three of the four bombs fell to the ground near Palomares, Spain. While none of them detonated with a nuclear explosion, the high-explosive triggers in two of the bombs went off upon impact and contaminated the area with radioactive material.

AFP: Russia to deploy new warheads in December: report
Russia will deploy a new multiple-warhead, nuclear-capable missile after a key US-Russian arms control treaty expires in December, a top general said on Tuesday, quoted by news agencies.

“After December 5, that is after the expiration of the START-1 treaty, a regiment with one command centre and one rocket division armed with RS-24 complexes with detachable warheads will be placed on a state of combat readiness,” General Nikolai Solovtsov was quoted as saying.

At least four warheads would be placed on the RS-24 missiles to be deployed, said Solovtsov, the commander of Russia’s strategic missile forces.

Russian PM vows to increase nuclear arsenal on the day Gordon Brown says he wants to reduce ours | Mail Online
Russia yesterday shocked the West by ordering a ‘large-scale’ rearmament of its nuclear and conventional forces.

In an announcement that could trigger an arms race, President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to bolster attack and defence capability.

The move came as Gordon Brown offered to surrender part of Britain’s nuclear deterrent in exchange for a global disarmament deal.


Department of Energy News

The Associated Press: DOE approves loan support for solar plant
The government announced approval Friday of the first loan guarantee for an energy project under a program that Congress approved four years ago, only to see it hamstrung by years of delay.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu vowed as one of his top priorities to revamp and speed up the loan guarantee program, promising to cut the time it takes to review applications, many of which have been on file at the department for a year or more.

On Friday, Chu announced approval of a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc., a company in Freemont, Calif., that makes solar panels for commercial buildings. The company said the government guarantee will cover debt financing for 73 percent of the cost of a second manufacturing plant in Freemont.

Aiken Standard: Contract loss leaves future of SRS plant uncertain
As the only commercial client who intended to buy MOX fuel from the $4.8 billion plant ends its contract, what will the ramifications be for the project and SRS?

In December, Duke Energy let its contract to use the fuel in its reactors lapse. This leaves the multibillion dollar facility currently under construction without a customer.

Duke Energy allowed its contract to buy the fuel expire Dec. 1, 2008, said Duke Energy spokesperson Rita Sipe.

The mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility is a federal project to build a facility that would dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium and create mixed-oxide fuel, commonly called MOX, at the Savannah River Site.

The facility is scheduled to open in 2016.
More dropsies at the Oak Ridge warhead plant | Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground |
It wasn’t exactly like the situation last year, when there were a couple of incidents — barely a week apart — involving dropped warhead components at Y-12. This one, according to a Feb. 20 report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, happened while moving drums containing weapons components.

“While moving drums containing weapons components in the Assembly/Disassembly Bulding, a drum fell from the second level of a stack of drums to the floor (about four feet),” the report said.

“The drum fell as a third-level pallet of drums was being removed by forklift. All personnel were appropriately clear of the drums being moved, and the drum had only minor denting on the top and bottom outer edges.”

The cause of the drop is under evaluation, and B&W, the Y-12 contractor, did not have any information to add to the report, according to a spokewoman.


Other Energy News

Peak Energy: Solar Panels at Costco
Jamais Cascio has a post on the widespread availability of DIY solar panels in the US – Living in the Green Future.

Popped into Costco today to pick up a couple of items, and what did I see?

Just in case you can’t read that too well, it’s a 60W solar panel setup, with inverter (allowing it to power 110V devices), junction box to hook the four panels together, cabling, and frame… for under $300.

Stacked like tires at Costco.

This is a beautiful example of why I talk about the banality of the future. Cheap solar power systems readily available to the unwashed masses was once something out of science fiction; today, it barely elicits a glance from shoppers stocking up on cases of pickles and TVs by the six-pack.
Peak Energy: A micro-hydropower revolution in the UK ?
The Guardian has an article on plans to expand micro-hydro generation in Britain – Canals and rivers to lead micro-hydropower revolution

Britain’s canals and rivers have already been heralded as a low-carbon way to tranport Tesco groceries, a test-bed for hydrogen boats and a opportunity to build more wind turbines. Now they’re being billed as a chance for micro hydropower to flourish under new plans unveiled today by British Waterways, which maintains 2,200 miles of the country’s canals and rivers.

In partnership with The Small Hydro Company, British Waterways said it intended to build 25 small-scale hydro-electric schemes with a capacity of 40MW, enough to power 40,000 homes. While far smaller in capacity than offshore wind farms switched on in 2008, the hydro initiative hopes to raise £120m in private capital over the next three years, create 150 construction jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by 110,000 tonnes annually.

Underwater turbines will be installed next to existing weirs and will not affect the navigation of canals and rivers. Larger waterways such as the Trent and Severn rivers will be used for the first hydro power projects, with many of the installations likely to be located in the East Midlands and Yorkshire. It is hoped the first of the 25 hydro installations will be generating renewable electricity by 2010.

Peak Energy: Democracy and science vs Big Coal: the final round ?
Dan Cass has an article in Crikey noting the greenhouse mafia have been performing very successfully under the Rudd government – Democracy and science vs Big Coal: the final round?.

Today’s news that the coal industry is lobbying Parliament again raises the grave but tedious question — when will Australia’s coal mafia give in to climate science and/or Australian public opinion? Until Guy Pearce’s Quarry Vision (Quarterly Essay 33) is released on March 16, we can only read the tea leaves, but the story is worth watching.

The Age has a big story today on this week’s Copenhagen climate science congress. This meeting of climate scientists will report that impacts already unfolding are far worse than IPCC predictions. The science says we have to switch out of coal, and fast.

On the democracy front, a Climate Institute poll released today shows 83% of swinging voters are concerned about climate change. Despite the spin of both major parties, the public knows that nothing is really being done to fix the problem.

Then tonight’s Four Corners will show that Big Coal is continuing to defy both climate science and public opinion, lobbying for Kevin Rudd to do nothing on climate change.
Peak Energy: Solar in the Sahara ‘could power the whole of Europe’
The Times has a story in the “deserts of gold” genre, confusing solar PV (panels) with concentrating solar thermal power – Solar panels in the Sahara ‘could power the whole of Europe’. There is a new twist to the story now though, with North Africa’s wind power potential also being touted.

All of Europe’s energy needs could be supplied by building an array of solar panels in the Sahara, the climate change conference has been told.

Technological advances combined with falling costs have made it realistic to consider North Africa as Europe’s main source of imported energy. By harnessing the power of the Sun, possibly in tandem with wind farms along the North African coastline, Europe could easily meet its 2020 target of generating at least 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

Renewable Energy Grid Infrastructure Reality Sinks In
In the US, the Californian desert and the Mid-West plains are ideal locations for solar and wind energy plants. In the UK the Scottish Highlands and Welsh mountains have the highest winds in the UK. These locations have similar characteristics – great resources for renewable energy generation, but limited grid infrastructure and not many people.

Hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles of new expensive, high voltage grid infrastructure is needed in these key locations to transport green energy to areas of high demand – the big cities. This grid infrastructure is both expensive and geographically extensive.

The Cost of Energy » Blog Archive » Document alert: UNEP Year Book 2009
The United Nations Environment Programme’s latest Year Book is out:

The UNEP Year Book 2009 presents work in progress on scientific understanding of global environmental change, as well as foresight about possible issues on the horizon. The aim is to raise awareness of the interlinkages among environmental issues that can accelerate the rates of change and threaten human wellbeing.

The UNEP Year Book 2009 examines in six chapters new science and developments, and discusses the cumulative effects expected from degradation of ecosystems, the release of substances harmful to those ecosystems and to human health, the consequences of our changing climate, the continued human and economic loss resulting from disasters and conflicts, and the overexploitation of resources. It calls for an intensified sense of urgency for responsible governance in the face of approaching critical thresholds and tipping points.
Salt-Free Solar: CSP Tower Using Air – Renewable Energy World
Concentrating solar power (CSP) is an emerging technology that offers the potential to supply utility-scale peaking power competitively.

In December 2008, a 1.5 MWe solar thermal central receiver system was declared operational by plant construction company Kraftanlagen Munchen. Although solar tower technology had been built as early as the 1970s and a second commercial tower is now close to completion (see REW magazine July/August 2008) the so-called Test and Demonstration Power Plant Julich, in Germany, is the world’s first solar thermal power plant erected which uses air as the medium for heat transport.

In all previous plants liquid media such as molten salt or oil have been used for the obvious reason of their high specific heat capacity, which in turn results in low volume flow rates and low pumping losses.

Boomtown Bremerhaven: The Offshore Wind Industry Success Story – Renewable Energy World
Formerly a region of high-unemployment, the German port of Bremerhaven has experienced a remarkable economic upturn, transforming into a major offshore wind power know-how centre and more.

At least four of Germany’s North Sea and Baltic Sea major ports have been transformed into the country’s main wind industry logistical centres and/or equipment manufacturing/supply bases during the past few years.

‘Of the €500 million invested for offshore wind power development along the German North Sea coastal region during the past years, about half came to Bremerhaven.’

— Jan Rispens, Managing Director, Windenergie Agentur Bremerhaven/Bremen (WAB)
Emden serves as a main export harbour for Enercon wind turbines, and the German market leader operates a large concrete tower manufacturing plant within Emden’s boundaries. BARD Engineering chose Emden as its offshore wind turbine assembly and rotor blade manufacturing location, while part of BARD’s Tripile offshore foundations are being manufactured by a subsidiary company in Cuxhaven. Both BARD and Enercon have, in addition, built a foundry in the region, aimed at providing at least part of their individual demand for heavy-cast components.

Scientist’s Hunger Strike Halts Work on Himalayan Dam : TreeHugger
The near-death of one of India’s most distinguished scientists has halted work on a major hydroelectric dam in the Himalayas. Professor AD Agarwal, 77, former dean of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi at Kanpur, has been on hunger strike for 38 days in protest against a project that would dam the waters of a Ganges tributary.

“The water … is not ordinary water to a Hindu. It is a matter of the life and death of Hindu faith,” Agarwal said, before beginning his fast in January.

This is his second fast in the past year, which he called off last week only after the Indian government agreed that it would look into electricity generation that would not impede the flow of the holy Ganges. The river must run free in order to maintain its sacred status.
230 Tonnes of Oil & 620 Tonnes of Fertilizer Spill From Damaged Ship in Australia : TreeHugger
Though no oil spill can be considered a good thing, what was initially reported as a 20-30 tonne spill is now ten times worse. The BBC is reporting that 230 tonnes of oil (about 70,000 gallons) have spilled from a Hong Kong-registered ship, damaged in a tropical storm earlier in the week, and is washing up along a 60km stretch of shoreline. Authorities are warning that this is threatening wildlife and carcinogenic:

Area’s affected by the spill run from Point Arkwright in the north to Bribie Island in the south, as well of all of Morton Island National Park.

What’s more, the spill happened when 31 containers containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer were toppled in the storm, puncturing the hull of the ship. 620 tonnes of the fertilizer have also spilled into the ocean.

In addition to the damage caused by the oil


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

‘Pennywise and pound foolish’ [Local reaction to VY report] – Brattleboro Reformer
Mechanical problems at Vermont Yankee can be fixed, said a member of the public oversight panel tasked with reviewing a reliability assessment of the power plant in Vernon.

“But we have concerns that the global and cultural problems — not mechanical — are a real enormous nut to crack,” said Arnie Gundersen. “Issues with management are cultural, hard to change and hard to measure that they have been changed.”

Entergy, which owns and operates Yankee, simply does not spend enough money or invest enough time to assure the power plant is maintained, said Gundersen.

He called Entergy “penny wise and pound foolish.”

It’s a corporate attitude that needs to be changed, said Gundersen.

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